Caribbean partners welcome ITC’s forthcoming regional value-chain development project
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) new programme for the Caribbean, currently under development, aims to facilitate the creation of regional value chains in priority sectors to be identified jointly by the public and the private sectors to increase the region’s competitiveness, said ITC Director Friedrich von Kirchbach at the launch event of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Regional Aid for Trade Strategy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti yesterday.
Mr von Kirchbach acknowledged that the region faces significant problems in competitiveness, but highlighted that it has the fundamentals in place to achieve export-led economic growth. CARICOM countries already have the right trade-policy framework in place; there is international demand for their exports, including tourism; and donors are engaged to provide development support. What is needed, Mr von Kirchbach said, is a focus on implementing the strategies that in place, such as the new Regional Aid for Trade Strategy. This should be done through the identification of sectors that have the capacity to develop regional value chains and have the potential to be competitive in global markets, he said. Priorities need to be determined in cooperation with the private sector so that viable strategies are created, Mr von Kirchbach explained.
Mr von Kirchbach participated in a panel discussion on the key elements of the strategy at the one-day event, entitled, ‘Turning market access into market presence’. See Mr von Kirchbach’s presentation and read ITC’s press release welcoming the launch of CARICOM’s Aid for Trade Strategy.
’ITC has significant experience in this area and we welcome this new project,’ said Valerie Pilgrim, Coordinator of Regional Cooperation and Integration at the Caribbean Development Bank, who also emphasized ITC’s gender-sensitive approach to trade development. ‘We are really excited at the prospect of working with ITC.’
‘CARICOM welcomes ITC’s expertise in trade policy development and is looking forward to the implementation of this new project,’ said David Hales, CARICOM’s Director of External Trade, who moderated the debate.
’The initiative of the International Trade Centre in the development of the implementation of a Caribbean export strategy project is welcome and has been endorsed,’ said Oliver Joseph, Grenada’s Minister for Economic Development and Trade and the Chairman of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development, in his closing statement. ‘The Caribbean looks forward to working with ITC.’
The conference was opened by Ambassador Irwin Larocque, CARICOM’s Secretary-General, who underlined that small states, such as those in the Caribbean, can only become competitive in global markets through close cooperation. Maritime transport, the information technology sector and private sector capacity building are key areas for the use of Aid for Trade resources, he said, adding that the next step is to develop concrete projects and build supply-side capacity among businesses. ‘Governments don’t trade,’ Mr Larocque said.
Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, in his keynote address emphasized the need for trade facilitation measures in the region. ‘Trade facilitation is no longer a policy choice but a policy necessity,’ he said.
William Laleau, Haiti’s Minister of Trade and Industry, underlined the need for transport infrastructure improvements to increase competitiveness. President Michel Martelly of Haiti, Chairman of the Caricom Heads of Government, launched the strategy and mentioned trade promotion, along with trade facilitation, as a key prerequisite for export expansion.
The CARIFORUM (Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States) Regional Export Strategy Programme (CRESP) is a proposed partnership among ITC, Caribbean Export, the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank and the private sector. ITC is currently in discussions with potential donors to secure the funds for the implementation of the project. The goal of CRESP is to promote a regional export culture within the Caribbean, which would strengthen coordination and integration and allow CARIFORUM countries to increase their exports and competitiveness in regional and global markets.
CRESP will contribute to the export diversification and export-growth goals of the CARIFORUM development agenda by:
• elaborating a Regional Export Action Plan for two high-growth value chains and two priority cross-functional areas,
• supporting a regional public-private sector export-implementation management framework and
• implementing two high-impact projects.